Despite loss in funding, full slate of activities planned for Yellowknife's Long John Jamboree

Pull on your longjohns and parkas and head down to the lake — Yellowknife’s annual spring festival, the Long John Jamboree, kicks off today.

'You won’t see a big change at all,' says organizer

A child getting his face painted at the Long John Jamboree. The annual Yellowknife spring festival kicks off this Easter weekend. (courtesy Long John Jamboree)

Pull on your longjohns and parkas and head down to the lake — Yellowknife's annual spring festival kicks off today.

Despite losing significant funding, the Long John Jamboree is celebrating its fifth year of ice carvings, games, Brrr gardens and more.

"There will be lots of interactive family activities," says Michelle MacDonald, the president of Long John Jamboree.

De Beers previously donated $30,000 a year to sponsor the ice carving competition — one of the festival's biggest draws — but the company said it couldn't do it this year.

One of the many competitions played at Yellowknife's Long John Jamboree on Great Slave Lake. (Long John Jamboree)

"The carving competition had to be cut way back," MacDonald says.

"We wanted to actually increase it this year because we had such an interest from all across the world having these ice carvers come up."

She says several carvers who have been with the festival since the beginning will still be on hand though, working their magic.

The usual $15,000 fireworks display was also cut from the roster, but other than that it's business as usual.

"You won't see a big change at all," MacDonald says, "same activities, and some new ones, and some just changed around.

"The big draw this year that we did new, is a big curling competition! We're having a big tournament down in the centre of our site."

They've also added hovercraft rides, and are bringing back old favourites, like skijoring races, igloo building, the terriers and tiaras dog fashion show, and the snow beach volleyball tournament.

Community contributes

Despite the loss in funding this year, MacDonald says she's seen how much Yellowknifers value Long John Jamboree, through a GoFundMe page they set up to help raise money.

Children enjoying the Sugar Shack, a popular attraction at the annual festival. (Long John Jamboree)

They're raised $3,200, and many of the donors have commented on how much the free festival means to them.

"It's fantastic, it's nice to see the individual side of things," MacDonald says.

The board members plan to keep the page going throughout the weekend, and again for next year.

"Seeing how much it's positively impacting people — it's wonderful for us and keeps us going," she says.

The opening ceremonies start at 12 p.m. on the snow stage. You can find the full schedule of events here.

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